County expects lawsuit over trash contract
At a special meeting before Thanksgiving, Santa Rosa County officials gave a second garbage truck permission to collect garbage at the north end of the county, even though the county has an “exclusive” contract with Waste Pro. Adams Sanitation applied for a garbage collection permit in the north in August and began attracting customers to start operations in January. Waste Pro filed a lawsuit against Adams, and the commissioners admitted at their meeting that their lawsuit is likely to lead to a lawsuit too.
The three-and-a-half hour meeting of District Attorney Roy Andrews stated that it was in fact a “quasi-judicial hearing”. He only gave a 12 minute presentation on the history of the contract with Waste Pro, first for the south end and then the north end. However, the Adams Sanitation attorney told the commissioners that they did not have the right to limit the number of carriers for the north end, as they had never created an exclusive collection area for the north end as they did for the south end of the county. He also claimed that even if they created the exclusive district, they would have to write it out because Waste Pro and the county had changed the contract from the original agreement for the south end.
Attorney George Armead said, “Today we’re just going to focus on the permit issue. There are many other issues, but we will focus on approval. “
He said his client met all of the county’s requirements to get a permit.
Nathan Boyles, owner of Adams Sanitation, told the commissioners, “We have met all requirements, completed the documents and submitted them. We waited five weeks for an answer and then the staff gave us an alleged rejection letter. There is no basis for rejection. I wrote a reply letter in which I questioned the rejection. “
He said that everything that the county listed in the permit application meets has been met.
He said, “We believe that today’s code requires you to get approval. We also looked for evidence that the county created an exclusive franchise area on the north end of the county and couldn’t find any, as it did on the south end. “
He questioned the £ 15,000 limit for trucks in the garbage handling area, stating that the limit for garbage trucks could not be met and only collection trucks could be used for garbage collection.
“Our permit application lists the trucks we have and the trucks we have less than £ 15,000. But we don’t want to use the smaller trucks to provide the kind of service that we want to provide with real garbage trucks. “
He said there are three reasons they believe the permit should be given.
“Today this room is full of people who want our service. The Waste Pro contract was bad business. Your lawyer should have spoken and told you to write it out. Waste Pro shouldn’t have gone into that either. And for the north end there is no legally required franchise area. There were no workshops or hearings on Waste Pro that made changes to the contract, such as: B. a reduced service. “
He also warned the commissioners, “If you don’t give us permission today, you will likely leave the opportunity to a judge from the district court. I don’t think your attorney knew the North End didn’t have a franchise. “
District Attorney Andrews reminded commissioners that he and commission staff had recommended tendering an RFP for the north end, but also insisted that current regulations allow district commissioners to withdraw the contract on the south end in order to provide services to the north end to provide north end.
“The allegations that the county did not act lawfully are completely false and are not part of today’s quasi-judicial hearing.”
Boyles said to the commissioners, “What will happen if you give us a permit today? The 3,000 families who have already signed up with Adams and paid a deposit for the service will be very happy. Waste Pro is likely to sue the county. But we don’t need five of you today – we just need three champions who lead by example and are willing to follow your own rules already set out in the permit application and process. “
Pace County Commissioner Sam Parker said he was the one who called the special meeting, but he was surprised Andrews set it up before the judge on the Waste Pro vs. Adams decided or issued a court order.
“I’ve heard from attorneys on both sides of this matter and this judge’s order would be an outside opinion of a third party.”
He said he had asked staff to provide a third attorney statement, and district administrator Dan Schebler said he spoke to some attorneys but did not provide anything in writing to give the commission as he was not sure if this at all is legally permitted at the hearing.
Parker said, “When I was running for this seat in this election, I heard from people who were unhappy with the process we went through to bring Waste Pro north so suddenly. People told me we made a mistake and I couldn’t defend it. I also felt that it was a mistake. “
Commissioner Bob Cole asked Adam’s Sanitation, “Where were you five or six months ago? When we found out that ECUA was suddenly leaving us in the north, we didn’t hear from anyone willing to take over this area, except Waste Pro. You seem very wise now about what you did to get Santa Rosa County to the ear. In hindsight, it’s easier to present yourself better than the competition because you now know that people want the twice-weekly service and the lower cost, and that’s what you can offer now. And you don’t pay a franchise fee like Waste Pro does. “
However, Boyles said the $ 27.50 per quarter fee Adams charges isn’t a bait and exchange business, but exactly what the company has charged 3,000 Okaloosa County customers for the same service over the past two years it offers customers in the north of Santa Rosa.
Gulf Breeze Commissioner Colten Wright said he had reached out to a few lawyers on the matter.
“I couldn’t get consensus from three different lawyers, and they are lawyers who specialize in government law. Although the board has the right to issue an exclusive contract, I don’t think that’s the best thing in this situation. “
Parker said, “I think this is an opportunity to hit the reset button and go back and do the right thing.”
Commissioner Dave Piech said it was best to wait for the judge’s opinion.
“When we give that approval, we’re essentially saying that we don’t have a legal contract with Waste Pro, and that leaves us with liability for Waste Pro. Either way, it puts the district in a difficult position. “
However, the commissioners unanimously voted to give permission for transportation to Adams Sanitation without the £ 15,000 limit on trucks. Adams will start collecting rubbish on the north end of the county in January.